Monday, April 26, 2004

L.A. Times Festival of Books, Day 2

After realizing how long it took to type the Day 1 synopsis up, links, pics, and all, I've decided to keep this one briefer. Besides, the panel that I'd go most into detail into is being rerun on C-Span.

The author/speaker who most struck me today was Michael Ignatieff, who I'd like to formally endorse as President of the United States based only on listening to what he said today. In a panel with very sharp opinions of the war ("Iraq One Year Later: Wrong to Get In? Right to Get Out?"), his seemed to match mine, and, I believe, would be that of most of the mainstream public if the proliferation of TV news hasn't required people to be so black and white.

He was for the war, mostly due to his up close view of the terror and destruction Sadaam had brought upon the Kurds in Northern Iraq in the early 90s. He made it clear that upon a return visit last year, they were a dramatically more prosperous people, citing new roads and hospitals having been built, as well as the general atmosphere. He also defended the concept of a pre-emptive war. But what he was viciously critical of was the Bush administration immense exaggeration of the evidence of the threat Sadaam posed in order to gain public support, and, in short, abusing the very thing he promised to bring to Iraq: democracy. He hammered the Bush administration relentlessly, mostly on their lack of a thorough plan for "post-war" Iraq. He said Nader, on the other hand, had a plan: "Pull out of Iraq, and let George Bush win the election." He said he had even less nice things to say about Kerry. It was refreshing to hear someone so pro-democracy also not adding an endorsement to the list.

His book, by the way, is The Lesser Evil : Political Ethics in an Age of Terror, and not out until May 1st... so maybe I'll earn enough to splurge on it by then.

Between panels, I munched down a Wetzel's bagel dog - a hot dog with a bagel acting as a sort of bun - kind of like a corn dog - but - uh, no wonder I'm packing on the pounds. I also swung by the Kids area to say hi to Tim Egan, the guy who did the art for my Christmas CD compilation, who was signing copies of his new book Serious Farm.

I missed being able to see three authors so I could see a panel on the future of dissent with Arianna Huffington, who was there to plug her new book Fanatics and Fools: The Game Plan for Winning Back America. I voted for Arianna in our recall election, mostly because I think she's hot... especially for a woman in her mid-50s (maybe its that Greek accent). I also hoped they'd discuss blogging, which they did. But, the panel ended up being too much fluff - nothing new, no great, fresh ideas. Half the panel seemed worried that dissent, criticism of the government, was on the decline as Ashcroft publicly called for people not to challenge the administration in the build up to the Iraq war. They also repeated an opinion I'd heard all weekend, that embedding reporters was a disservice to the press, since journalists can't be objective while they're relying on the subjects to keep them alive. And in the end, it seemed like everyone was in agreement that the internet and the large number of bloggers out there were keeping dissent alive and kicking. Best quote of the day came from Katrina vanden Heuvel who said, "The only thing this administration has to fear is the end of fear itself," echoing another repeated opinion from the weekend, and that I've been saying all along, that if Bush wins, it will be because people are voting out of fear.

Of course, while walking between seminars, people watching, standing in lines, and browsing the vendor booths, I had all sorts of killer ideas and observations to post... but, they're lost on my tired mind. Maybe if I trained myself to keep a pen and paper with me...